The new research project “Healthy and Biodiverse Edible Cities” (HEBEDI), led by THESys Member Dr. Ina Säumel and funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), explores the impact of biodiversity on urban health.

A transdisciplinary Community of Knowledge and Practice

Building on the successes of EdiCitNet and the HealthyLiving projects, IRI THESys’ Multifunctional Landscapes Research Group is collaborating with the Center for Preventive Medicine and Digital Health at the Medical Faculty Mannheim (Heidelberg University), JUCA Landscape architects, various communal housing companies, and community gardens as a transdisciplinary Community of Knowledge and Practice to explore how biodiversity influences human health.

Tackling Urban Health Challenges

City life often brings health challenges like heat islands, social isolation, and alienation from nature. Observational studies suggest that (bio)diverse community gardens, featuring elements like wildflower meadows and deadwood, can alleviate these issues by reducing stress and loneliness, encouraging physical activity, and fostering nature interactions. Yet, the widespread adoption of such gardens needs more solid evidence from rigorously designed studies.

HEBEDI’s Innovative Approach

HEBEDI delves into the effects of biodiversity in community gardens on both human health and urban biodiversity. By randomly assigning garden spaces to either biodiverse or less biodiverse setups, this study not only examines correlations but also uncovers the causal impacts of biodiversity on human health. The focus is on the physical, psychological, and social health of garden users, alongside both perceived and objectively measured biodiversity. The project also seeks to understand the mechanisms behind these effects, identifying barriers and supportive factors that influence the health benefits of garden use. With these insights, the HEBEDI team will create a practical framework to help municipalities implement biodiverse community gardens effectively.

Contributing to Core Knowledge

As a ground-breaking intervention study, HEBEDI will significantly enhance our fundamental understanding of how biodiversity impacts health, building on the findings of numerous observational studies.

Further information

Healthy and Biodiverse Edible Cities (HEBEDI 2023-2027)

This project is f unded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), this project falls under the Research Initiative for the Conservation of Biodiversity (FEdA), pushing the boundaries of our understanding of the vital links between biodiversity and human well-being.